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Why GDPR is making 2018 the year of direct mail

By Eef de Ridder, Director of Commercial Printing, Commercial and Industrial Printing Group, Ricoh Europe

Ricoh Europe, 19 April 2018 – 2018 is going to be a defining year for direct mail. Legislation, trends and initiatives are converging to encourage a shift in the balance of power between online marketing and printed direct mail.

Leading this resurgence of interest is legislation in the form of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). From May, consent will be explicitly required for data collection, contact will need to be pre-agreed for specific purposes and any personal data held must be deleted on request. 

One of Ricoh’s clients, Paragon, who sends out four million communications every day says that the GDPR updates the key principle of ‘legitimate interest’ and balances the interests of the business against those of the consumer. It has helpfully created this useful eight point approach to best practice.

Work harder to capture interest
GDPR puts data control into the hands of individuals meaning marketers will need to work harder and smarter to capture and retain consumer interest. Much has been written about the impact this will have on the way communication will be managed. Not least, the fact personal data must be accurate, kept up to date and, where it is found to be inaccurate, rectified or erased. And, under the GDPR, organisations must also be able to demonstrate compliance with these obligations.

Less has been said about the opportunities this presents direct mail, particularly as postal marketing consent, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office, is not needed under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. This means direct mail, as a communication medium, does not have to adhere to such stringent requirements surrounding consent. The result is that the GDPR may well tip the balance further in favour of direct mail. In fact, interviews conducted by Ricoh Europe with European print service providers show they consider the GDPR to be a huge opportunity for consultation with clients regarding new possibilities for direct mail.

This leads us neatly to trends. In the UK, advertising mail is the third largest media channel after online and TV. It is worth an estimated £1.7bn annually. While Royal Mail figures state that 92% of direct mail is opened. 

Digital fatigue will help print stand out
Research has also shown that millennials are suffering from digital fatigue enabling print to stand out. Nearly half of millennials ignore digital ads and 88% see print on paper as more official than digital. Quite often, millennials start their customer journey on paper (e.g. direct mail) and use the web to find out more details about desired products and services.

But to date there has not been a recognised audience measurement system in Britain. This is why the new Joint Industry Committee for Mail (JICMAIL) initiative is generating so much interest. Established in January, it brings together representatives from organisations including the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) and the Royal Mail.  Its aim is to provide robust audience data for mail through the measurement of readership, reach and frequency of exposure.

It does this with a nationally representative research sample of 1,000 people. They photograph what comes through their letterbox and over four weeks record what action they take. As a result, the data won’t only judge mail’s effectiveness using retrospective measures such as the return on investment of a campaign. It will also provide brands and media agencies with information to help media planning.  

51% of all mail is read immediately 
An audience panel has already been up and running for six months. It has found 51% of all mail is read immediately, a further 19% is followed up on later and 21% prompts an action such as a purchase, website visit or store visit.

This initial response is hugely encouraging and reinforces our view that direct mail is a highly valuable and successful tool for communication.

This puts direct mail on the same level with other advertising media that have had measurement systems in place for many years, enabling brand owners to judge the effectiveness of their campaigns.

We can help you further explore the power of printed direct mail and ways to encourage greater interaction. Whether it is though cost-effective print from our high speed continuous feed inkjet presses such as the Ricoh Pro™ VC60000, a creative mix of inks, substrates and finishes with our sheetfed systems that include the Ricoh Pro™ C7200x, or with our production enhancing software solutions. We also have the data cleansing /data.mill solution developed in partnership with data.mill.

If you would like to discuss these further or investigate other services and solutions in our extensive portfolio, contact your local Ricoh company and consider a visit to our European Customer Experience Centre (CEC) in Telford, central England.

|About Ricoh|

Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services enabling individuals to work smarter. For more than 80 years, Ricoh has been driving innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2018, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,063 billion yen (approx. 19.4 billion USD).

For further information, please visit www.ricoh-europe.com


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Jack Gibson
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